Space flight/trading/combat simulator Elite: Dangerous has had support for Oculus Rift development kits almost since the beginning of the game's closed, backer-only testing phase, and playing it with a Rift is a startlingly immersive experience. When Ars Gaming Editor Kyle Orland talked with lead designer David Braben at GDC earlier this year, Braben said that his commitment to VR extended beyond just supporting Oculus. Monday morning, Frontier Developments followed through and announced that Elite: Dangerous will receive an update to work with SteamVR this holiday season. The first non-Rift headset that Elite will support will be the HTC Vive.
"Starting early with VR has been a tremendous advantage," Frontier communications manager Michael Gapper told Ars in an e-mail conversation this morning. "We ve been working with VR since December 2013 and tweaking the experience throughout. We ve learned a lot, not just about the technology but about best practice for design."
It was unclear for a lot of 2014 and 2015 exactly when consumer versions of VR headsets would begin to hit the market, though now it appears that devices from multiple manufacturers including Oculus and HTC will begin to appear in appreciable quantities in the first quarter of 2016 (the Vive is scheduled to officially launch at the end of 2015, but all indications are that quantities at launch will be extremely limited). At least for now, most devices are dependent on a specific "platform" with its own SDK and API; the HTC Vive is for use with Valve's SteamVR, while the Oculus Rift works with the Oculus SDK and run-times. There are some efforts to unify the fragmented VR space, but at least for the first year, consumers will likely need to choose a VR platform and pay attention to the VR-enabled games they buy to make sure they re supported.